some available only in Latin translations, owing to his denunciation as a heretic by emperor Justinian in 543.
Irenaeus of Lyons73 claimed that the church's faith, received from the apostles and their disciples, was one and the same over the entire world, in such diverse regions as Germany, Spain, Gaul, 'the east', Egypt, Libya and 'the central regions of the world' (Haer. 1.10.2).74 The church inherited this claim for universal, cross-regional unity from Judaism, which, with its orientation to the temple in Jerusalem, was the only other religion in the history of Graeco-Roman religions to have this feature.
Interestingly enough, Irenaeus' work turned up in Egypt within twenty years of its composition (P. Oxy. 405).75 It was certainly known to, and used by, Clement,76 the earliest known Alexandrian writer against 'heresies'. Irenaeus' work is only one of countless writings composed outside Egypt of various genres which, from the first century on, came in a flood from such diverse regions as Palestine, Antioch, eastern Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Rome and North Africa. And Christian authors in Egypt returned the favour. It is, first of all, through 'networks'77 of Christians exchanging letters and literature that one can speak of relations between the church in Egypt and churches elsewhere.
The first known 'official' exchange of letters from the Alexandrian church to other churches is reported by Eusebius in connection with the controversy on the dating of Easter that arose towards the end of the second century (HE 5.25). He quotes from a joint encyclical letter composed by the Palestinian bishops of Jerusalem, Caesarea, Tyre and Ptolemais in support of celebrating Easter always on a Sunday, as advocated by bishop Victor of Rome, instead of on the fourteenth of the Jewish lunar month Nisan, as was the custom in Asia Minor. That letter includes the following sentence: And we make it plain to you that in Alexandria also they celebrate the same day as do we, for letters have been exchanged between them and us, so that we observe the holy day together and in agreement.' What is of special interest here is that no mention
74 For a discussion of this passage see Pearson, Emergence, 174-5.
75 Roberts, Manuscript, society and belief, 14, 23.
76 On Clement's use of Irenaeus see van den Hoek, 'How Alexandrian?', 186,190.
77 The importance of 'network theory' in social-scientific study of early Christianity is underscored especially by Rodney Stark in his book, Rise of Christianity; cf. also White, Social networks; and Pearson, 'On Rodney Stark's foray'.
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